The Ledge was screened in New York during a stand-off between supporters and opponents of gay marriage; some journalists even believed that the city, which was one vote away from legalizing marriage equality, was on the heels on “anarchism.” Luckily, it never came that far. Coincidentally, the film, Matthew Chapman’s directorial debut (he also pens the script), was inspired by his own experiences with negative reactions over his uncle’s homosexuality. In one interview, Chapman, who authored two non-fiction books, Trials of the Monkey: An Accidental Memoir and 40 Days and 40 Nights, recalls that he wasn’t “much older than ten” when he realized that “this hatred either came from or was justified by the bible.” Thus he made the film’s theme rationalism versus faith. Unfortunately, dry storytelling and in-your-face characterization cheapens an ambitious message.
As writer and director, Chapman believes that humor and suspense are “underused as vehicles for carrying serious themes.” His freshman effort is a manifestation of that belief . . . or at least it tries to be. The film opens with Hollis (Terrence Howard), a police Detective, finding out that he’s infertile. This is news to him as he’s already fathered two children, whom he thought were his. Whilst slouching around the office, planning his divorce, he’s called onto a rooftop, where Gavin (Charlie Hunnam), a hotel manager, is about to jump. Gavin admits that he isn’t married, doesn’t have a girlfriend (per se), and that he has to off himself or someone else will die.
The Ledge then flashbacks to Joe (Patrick Wilson) and Shauna (Liv Tyler), a new couple in Gavin’s building, moving in next door. At face value, they seem nice, spouting the obligatory “hellos” and “goodbyes” at each passing. The latter even finds work at Gavin’s hotel. It doesn’t take much for him to fall for her and at her request, is invited to a neighborly dinner, where he first butts heads with Joe, a fundamentalist Christian. We learn that the couple doesn’t drink (despite having alcohol in their home) and believe everyone (save for a few devoted folk) will go to hell. This doesn’t sit well with Gavin, an atheist, who decides to liberate Shauna from her domineering spouse. But looks prove to be deceiving when the usually introverted wife quickly becomes a sexual goddess, the God-fearing husband looks into more ‘effective’ ways of dealing with his lover’s infidelity, and Gavin, well, he’s being screwed regardless.
From a critically-acclaimed author, one should expect more from The Ledge. This film, however, is in shambles. Dialogue, especially, is not Chapman’s forte. Never should a movie that studies a group of present-day working folk have characters that sound like they’re reciting Shakespearian text. The majority of the film has Joe and Gavin arguing about religion (with both trying desperately to prove that the other is closed minded). These scenes are relentlessly didactic and occur in 10-to-15 minute spurts, ending with either character retaliating in a rage while being preached to. It’s almost ironic that in the same, aforementioned interview, the director states, “. . . if people are in suspense or doubled up laughing, they’ll ingest all kinds of stuff without feeling they’re being lectured to.”
But more importantly, what is Terrence Howard doing in this film? Sure, his performance is decent (and he must’ve been crowned the “Indie Film King” for a reason) but his character contributes nothing to the big picture, in fact, there’s about half an hour (and thousands of dollars) wasted in setting up Hollis’ superfluous backstory. But, with this quality of writing, even Tyler and Hunnam (known for his role in “Sons of Anarchy”) couldn’t have saved this faulty production (although Wilson is suitably creepy).
The Ledge takes bad to new heights.
July 7, 2011 @ 1:43 pm Bugger
Aside from the Lord of the Rings trilogy it is a safe bet to stay away from anything that prominently stars Liv Tyler. The girl can’t act.
July 9, 2011 @ 10:54 am daniel
I liked this movie! Wilson is amazing in his permofance.
July 24, 2011 @ 9:24 pm Martha Norwood
I have not, as of now, watched “The Ledge”, however, I’ve heard that this film was excellent with regard to the chemistry between Liv Tyler and the actor who plays the part of the atheist and her lover. Some have even gone so far as to say that this movie has done for atheist that the film “Broke back Mountain” did for the gay community. I’m anxiously waiting to see it!
July 24, 2011 @ 11:23 pm Mariusz Zubrowski
Martha, I highly doubt anyone has said that.
December 21, 2011 @ 8:17 am Theo
I’m from the Netherlands and owned a video-rental store for 26 years. I have seen thoussands of movies and still do. When a movie (still) touches me it must be a special movie and this one is. I just watched this movie. I was looking for an answer who the people are that the movie is dedicated to. That way I found this site and your comment. Sure it’s not a blockbuster movie but it’s a movie I’ll remember for a long time! As a Dutch man I’m proud my country was the first to let gay people marry, like hetero people like myself can. Specially in these days where abuse of children in our catholic churches for the last decades is investigated, I find this movie refreshing. The reason I’ve taken the time to post my opinion is simply the fact that you rate it so poorly. If I had taken your advise I wouldn’t have seen this really touching movie. Of course it’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen but it’s a movie that touched me after a longer period. It think it’s brave, especially in the USA, to make a movie that is pro gay and against (in my opinion) fundamentalistic religion. I would rate it “not bad” and even “see it” for people interested in this material. It made me search for more info on the internet.